I’ve been very torn about the Giants moves, or lack thereof, this offseason. On one hand, I get what their doing. They deemed last season to be sort of flukey with injuries to Pagan, (the second most important player on the team), Cain, Affeldt, Casilla, and Scutaro’s lack of production due to an injury (thats what they say), and Sandoval’s weight issues. The Giants are confident that this team they have now, with the additions of a starting pitcher, and a relief pitcher or two, can rebound. They believe Brandon Belt will finally get going, which could very well happen, as he improved from 7 HRs in 2012 to 17 HRs in 2013 and, at times, looked like their best player. They believe Posey will rebound to have a better season, and are optimistic on Sandoval, which at this point, they have to be due to lack of depth at third base. If the Giants had anyone ready to go behind him, you bet they’d explore trading him.
With Pagan back, the Giants front end of the lineup doesn’t actually look so bad. They can contend in theory with: 1. Pagan 2. Scutaro 3. Sandoval 4. Posey 5. Pence 6. Belt (although, I’d hit Sandoval here and Belt third, but they’ll probably start the season like this.) 7. Crawford 8. Blanco 9. Pitchers spot. One through Six in the lineup actually looks pretty good in theory if Sandoval and Scutaro can rebound, and Belt starts to make a splash. However, like I’ve said hundreds of times before, the Giants need to upgrade at Left Field, another season of Gregor Blanco in left isn’t going to put this team back in playoff contention.
Brian Sabean’s lack of movement on that front is very troubling to me. He was quoted in an interview with Scott Ostler from the San Francisco Chronicle saying in regards to acquiring a left fielder:
“We’re open minded, but I’m not optimistic that it’s going to be a big piece, or anything earth shattering.”
This, I believe is GM speak saying that really, the Giants aren’t going to try THAT hard, because their scared of signing another Aaron Rowand, and they’d rather not deplete their already very thin farm system by trading arms or losing their coveted first round (14th) pick. And, what constitutes a big piece? Does he mean we’re not even going to get a starter and we have to be ok with a guy like Rajai Davis or Franklin Guttierrez (Wendy Thurm, BASG), or trade for guys like Vernon Wells, or Ichiro? I’m fine with Ichiro (now expendable due to the Yankees signing every free agent on the market) he’s maybe one of the top ten best hitters ever, but at 40 years old he’s lost a step, and I’m just not sure he can play every day, or what impact he’d have at the top of the Giants order (I’d hit him 2 and drop Scutaro to 7 or 8) or in the National League. Another name that has been floated is Brett Gardner, the Yankees current Left Fielder. Gardner is a guy who I’d take in a second, but I don’t see the Yankees dealing him, unless they sign Choo, which would be downright crazy.
I’m really pessimistic about what the Giants are doing. They apparently have the money to go out and get someone, and while the market IS inflated, there are guys to be had. Curtis Granderson just signed with the mets for 4 years 60 million. Thats 15 per year. Less than what the Giants are paying Hunter Pence, and I don’t think Granderson is that far off from Pence in terms of talent. Nelson Cruz isn’t a fit for this team, as he declined a qualifying offer, and would cost a first round pick. He is also coming from a ballpark that inflated his stats (that and the whole steroids thing), and the Giants are weary of guys like that.
Fact is, they need to make a move in left field, and they will. I am just not sure how big of an impact that move is going to make. The Free Agent market is much thinner now, and trade options are dwindling as well due to the Giants lack of Major League ready prospects. The Giants are good at being creative when it comes to trades, or finding that lightning in a bottle player, and they’re going to have to be if they want to come close to contention, because The Dodgers are going to be here for a long time, and Arizona is moving up in the world too.